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We’ve provided links below to a number of websites that we believe provide quality, readily accessible information and tools to support your organizational capacity building efforts and enhance organizational effectiveness. Our focus is on serving not-for-profits based throughout British Columbia. However, many of the resources listed are relevant to not-for-profits across Canada and even worldwide – so even if you are not based in BC, you will find some useful tools here. Resources are available in a number of topic areas that we believe are important for improving an organization's effectiveness:

Board Development
Communications Planning
Financial Management
Fundraising Planning
Human Resources
Marketing Planning
Organizational Change and Renewal
Program Planning
Social Enterprise Planning
Starting and Maintaining a Not-for-Profit and Charity
Strategic Planning
Working with Consultants
Point Grey Eyecare

Within each topic area the list is organized alphabetically. Each listing is accompanied by a brief description and may also highlight one or two resources. If you have the time and inclination, we invite you to explore beyond the recommended resources to see what else these websites have to offer.

A number of the sites listed here post their documents in PDF file format. You’ll need Adobe Reader to read these files. If you don’t already have this free software, click here to download a copy from the Adobe website.

We always appreciate your thoughts on the quality and accessibility of the resources we’ve included , alerts to broken links, or suggestions for websites to add. Please send us an email with your comments.


  • These resources are provided for your information only, and their inclusion in this listing does not necessarily mean that the Centre for Sustainability endorses them or the organizations that have produced them.
  • The views and opinions expressed in any document included in or referenced from any of the websites listed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Sustainability.
  • While we’ve made an effort to review the content of each of the sites on this list, we can’t guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information they contain.

Board Development

Board Café
Board Café is the monthly electronic newsletter exclusively for members of not-for-profit boards of directors. Short enough to read over a cup of coffee, Board Café offers a menu of ideas, information, opinion, news, and resources to help board members give and get the most out of board service. There are over 80 great issues covered in the archives section on topics such as "The Board Should Raise Money: True or False" and "What to Do When You Really, Really Disagree with a Board Decision". Board Café is produced by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services of California.

Board Development
A project of United Way of Canada - Centraide Canada, Board Development contains a wealth of information on the many different facets of governance.

  • Visit the "Quick Checklists" section to find an organizational assessment worksheet entitled "Key Elements of a Healthy Organization."
  • Visit the "Components of Board Governance" section and click on "Proper Management of Meetings" for tips on how to prepare for board meetings and improve their effectiveness.

BoardMatch Fundamentals helps place volunteers on the Boards of Directors of charitable and not-for-profit organizations. It currently operates in Calgary, Fredericton, Greater Toronto Area, Greater Vancouver and Thunder Bay; however, there is an excellent on-line training tool for all potential board members, as well as for existing board members who want to update their skills and knowledge about not-for-profits. As an organization wishing to sign up with BoardMatch Fundamentals to recruit volunteers, you will complete a different on-line training tool, which again is full of excellent information about governance and the not-for-profit sector. You will need to register as a user in order to access the tools.

BoardWorx is a new stream of programs from BoardMatch focused on enhancing the skill sets of staff in the charitable sector in the area of governance. The BoardWorx Executive Director Program (BWED) is a free program that combines interactive classroom sessions, peer learning circles and mentoring. It is designed to support senior leaders in working more effectively with their boards and address governance issues in a confidential setting with their peers. This program is currently only available in Greater Toronto.

Board Development Program
Part of the Government of Alberta’s effort to support the voluntary sector, the Board Development Program offers free workbooks and newsletters on board development. The highly informative workbooks, developed in conjunction with the Muttart Foundation, cover the following topics:

  • Developing Job Descriptions for Board Members of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Drafting and Revising Bylaws
  • Board Building: Recruiting and Developing Effective Board Members for Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Hiring and Performance Appraisal of the Executive Director
  • Financial Responsibilities of Not-for-Profit Boards

First Nations Education Steering Committee
Effective Board Governance: A Handbook for Board Members and Administrators of First Nations’ Boards can be downloaded free of charge from the First Nations Education Steering Committee website. As its title suggests, the handbook has a First Nations focus. It also assumes that the reader has no background, training or experience in Board governance. We’ve read it, and suggest that members of all not-for-profit Boards, regardless of their experience, could benefit from the information it contains.

Mentoring Canada
Mentoring Canada offers a free, self-paced, on-line training course called Fundamentals of Effective Board Involvement. It may be accessed in the Training section of their website. It is aimed at new or prospective non-profit board members who are unsure of what they may be getting into, as well as more experienced board members who don't feel that their board participation is all that it could be. You will explore your objectives, roles, and responsibilities, and learn about effective board practices; find updated board information and an energy boost for board veterans; learn from the experiences of fellow "students"; and apply your knowledge to real board situations. Covering all the subjects and activities should take about 2 to 3 hours of work.

National Study of Board Governance Practices in the Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector in Canada
This recent study, completed by Strategic Leverage Partners Inc. in partnership with the Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development, represents a unique database of Canadian non-profit governance practices. It also identifies trends and issues that affect the governance of Canada’s non-profit organizations, provides an inventory of successful board governance practices to address common challenges and offers some suggestions on ways to measure the accountability of non-profit boards.

Volunteer BC
The A - Z Directory for Board Governance is designed to take you along a continuum from the early organizational stage of building your Board in Section One, through the stage for organizations who have been in existence for a few years in Section Two, through to the stage for more mature organizations with experienced Board members in Section Three.

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Communications Planning

W. K. Kellogg Foundation
In addition to information for grantees, the “Knowledgebase” section of this site contains a useful toolkit that outlines the essential elements for building an effective communications plan. The toolkit has been created primarily for Kellogg Foundation grantees; however the Foundation hopes that other not-for-profits will find the content provocative and action-oriented.

  • Click on “Knowledgebase” then on “Toolkits” to view the communications planning toolkit.
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Financial Management

Basic Guide to Non-Profit Financial Management
The Basic Guide to Non-Profit Financial Management is written by Carter McNamara and is available, free of charge, from The Free Management Library. Topics include the basics of financial management, bookkeeping and controls, critical operating activities in the yearly accounting cycle, managing program finances, and financial statements and analysis.

Cass & Fraser Chartered Accountants
Offered by Cass & Fraser Chartered Accountants of Alberta, this site includes information on accounting principles and techniques for not-for-profit organizations.

  • Click on "Accounting Tutorial" for an explanation of some common not-for-profit journal entries, and the process of posting entries and compiling financial statements.

Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code
The ethical fundraising and financial accountability code from Imagine Canada is a set of standards and benchmarks that enables organizations to manage their funds responsibly and report their financial affairs accurately and completely. Any Canadian charity can adopt the code and become registered as an adherent to the code. Registered adherents are listed on Imagine Canada's website and promoted as responsible charities. Adherents also get special recognition as ethical fundraisers on, an online donation portal that allows people to donate to their favourite charity. For more information about the ethical code or to request a licensing package, contact the Ethical Code Program at ext. 221, 1-800-263-1178, or by e-mail.

Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network
Click on "Financial Management" for a good overview of accounting and budgeting. In the "Accounting for Nonprofits" section, there is a good article on preparing your cash flow statement - including why you need one. See our “General Not-for-Profit Management” section below for more information on VSKN.

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Fundraising Planning

Association of Fundraising Professionals
The Association of Fundraising Professionals is the professional association of individuals responsible for generating philanthropic support for a wide variety of charitable organizations. There are local chapters in Vancouver and Victoria. The Vancouver chapter has its own website giving information on its professional development events. All members of AFP must adopt the Code of Ethics for fundraisers; a copy of the Code is available on the website.

Resource Centre for Voluntary Organizations
The Resource Centre for Voluntary Organizations offers information for the not-for-profit sector on a variety of topics including fundraising.

  • Click on "Useful Information" for resources to help with fundraising planning, such as “What is a Fundraising Plan” and “What are the steps involved in developing a Fundraising Plan”.

TREC (Training Resources for the Environmental Community)
TREC offers two reports that analyze conservation groups’ major fundraising challenges and offer paths to greater success. Both are available for download from the “Research and News” page of their website.

  • Surviving or Thriving: Raising Funds for Environmental Nonprofits in the West, by Bill Vesneski, Director of Evaluation and Knowledge Services, and Nancy Adess, Editor in Chief.
  • Conservation Fundraising at a Crossroads: Creating Healthy Fundraising Organizations, by Mary Humphries.
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Human Resources
The premiere source of information, tools and research related to human resources in the voluntary and non-profit sector in Canada. The HR Council for the Voluntary & Non-profit Sector (HR Council) works with organizations, educators, labour and government to identify and address issues related to paid employment in the voluntary and non-profit sector., brought to you by The Centre for Cultural Management, University of Waterloo, offers on-line professional development opportunities for cultural managers. The content of the courses is broadly-based, dealing with principles of management that apply to all areas of arts and heritage. There are 25 Certificate Courses available on-line, each taking approximately 10 hours to complete and costing $95.

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Marketing Planning

Marketing Kit: Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund
The Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund’s (OCAF) mission is about expanding cultural tourism. It is about helping organizations attract new people from new places for new events or programs. This Marketing Kit provides a simple set of tools to help you produce a stronger marketing plan and execute it more effectively. It is meant to encourage and guide you in realizing the goals of your organization.

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Organizational Change and Renewal

Manage for Today, Mentor for Tomorrow
The September/October 2005 issue of Nonprofit World contained an interesting article on succession planning by Michael Shenkman: Manage for Today, Mentor for Tomorrow. According to Shenkman, top officers in need of successors, and organizations seeking leaders to meet creative challenges, must incorporate leader mentoring into their action plans. Nonprofit World is published by the Society for Nonprofit Organizations (

NeighborWorks America
Visit NeighborWorks America for a free handbook on succession planning entitled “Managing Executive Transitions.” This is a great resource for not-for-profit organizations that are planning for, or going through, an executive transition.

Succession Process: Vancouver International Writers Festival
The Vancouver International Writers Festival embarked on a succession planning process in 2001 in preparation for the retirement of its founder and Artistic Director at the end of 2005. This report documents the process from the beginning planning stages through the search and the transition period when the founder and her successor worked together for 4 months.

Strategic Restructuring
Strategic Restructuring: Partnership Options for Nonprofits is brought to you by La Piana Associates. Strategic restructuring represents a continuum of partnerships — including but not limited to mergers, joint ventures, administrative consolidations, and joint programming — through which nonprofits attempt to anticipate or respond to environmental threats and opportunities.

  • Click on Case Studies for valuable information gathered through "testimonials" from people who have gone through a strategic restructuring, and through projects that La Piana Associates have seen or facilitated.
  • Click on Tips and Answers to Your Questions for discussions on topics ranging from “how to decide if your organization is ready for strategic restructuring”, to “thoughts on how to handle the inevitable difficult moments in a negotiation process”, to “the role of boards and executives during implementation”.

When to Consider a Merger
Nonprofit mergers are on the rise. The reasons are varied, but many organizations are looking for ways to combine their resources and expertise with others to gain some economies of scale and perhaps position themselves to win more grants and contracts. But is a merger right for your organization? A recent issue from Fieldstone Alliance's Tools You Can Use discusses when to consider a merger, what it won't do for you, and what it can do for you strategically in the medium to long-term.

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Program Planning

Building Sustainable Initiatives
As part of the Centre for Sustainability's desire to connect more effectively with communities and organizations across the province, we have become interested in the work of Rural Team BC. With input from other organizations, Rural Team BC has developed this model for holistic community-based project planning. It is a useful tool for building sustainable initiatives and will help ensure that you consider factors like community input, effective partnerships, funding, inclusivity and evaluation when planning a new project or program.

W K Kellogg Foundation: Logic Model Development Guide
Nonprofits today are being pressed to demonstrate the effectiveness of their program activities by initiating and completing outcome-oriented evaluation of projects. This guide was developed to provide practical assistance to nonprofits engaged in this process and provides sufficient orientation to the underlying principles of "logic modeling" that you can use this tool to enhance your program planning, implementation, and dissemination activities. You may order a free hard copy or view it online.

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Social Enterprise Planning

CSEN (Canadian Social Entrepreneurs Network)
CSEN provides a Canadian venue for discussion, dialogue, access to on line resources, sharing of lessons learned, storytelling, and the exchange of practical information that practitioners need in working towards social goals within the entrepreneurial paradigm.

Enterprising Non-Profits
The Enterprising Non-Profits program is administered by the Vancity Community Foundation and provides financial resources to support social enterprise research and business planning.

Fraser Valley Centre for Social Enterprise
If you are thinking about starting up a social enterprise and need assistance, the Fraser Valley Centre for Social Enterprise has the tools that you need to get you started, including some great online resources as well as workshops and counselling for organizations based in the Fraser Valley.

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Starting and Maintaining a Not-for-Profit and Charity

Centre for Community Organizations (COCo)
Centre for Community Organizations (COCo) is a Quebec based not-for-profit capacity builder. This section addresses key questions to think about before incorporating. is a virtual resource centre from the Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. This section answers the following questions on Not-for-Profit Incorporation:

  • Who would want to incorporate as a non-profit organization?
  • Why should an organization incorporate?
  • How does an organization get incorporated?
  • Will you need a lawyer to incorporate?
  • What will it cost to incorporate?

Ministry of Finance: Corporate Registry
This section discusses the following issues regarding registration and maintenance of a Not-for-Profit Incorporation in British Columbia:

  • Registering a corporate name
  • Steps for incorporation
  • Maintaing your BC Society
  • Voluntary Dissolution
  • Registration of an Extraprovincial Society

Canada Revenue Agency: Charities Directorate
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) registers qualifying organizations as charities, gives technical advice on operating a charity, and handles audit and compliance activities. Registered charities are required to file an annual information return with the CRA, a portion of which is available to the public, and must meet certain requirements of the Income Tax Act concerning their expenditures and activities.

Pro Bono Law of BC
If you are having trouble sorting through the legal complexities of running your not-for-profit organization, consider contacting Pro Bono Law of BC for assistance. One of the organization's strategic objectives is to work closely with community groups and non-profit organizations of limited means to identify and meet their legal needs and the legal needs of the public whom they serve. See the "Information for Community Groups" page on their website to learn more. While you're there, consider downloading their "Community Partnership Manual" which outlines the steps you can take to establish and maintain a successful pro-bono partnership between your organization and a law firm in your community.

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Strategic Planning

Nonprofit Genie
The Nonprofit Genie, brought to you by the California Management Assistance Partnership, has an excellent series of FAQ’s on strategic planning, including “Why Plan” and “What if I only have one or two days to do Strategic Planning?”.

TREC (Training Resources for the Environmental Community)
In spring 2005, TREC interviewed nine conservation leaders and four strategic planning facilitators about their experiences with strategic planning. They gathered what they learned from these interviews as well as from TREC’s eight years of experience working with grassroots conservation groups in the West on strategic planning and compiled this report: Strategic Planning in Western Grassroots Conservation Groups: Lessons from the Field, by TREC, and Nancy Adess, Editor in Chief, available for download from the "Research and News" page of their website.

Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network
VSKN has some excellent links to strategic planning tools in the Leadership: Strategic Planning section of their website. See our “General Not-for-Profit Management” section below for more information on VSKN.

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AVG Anti-Virus Software
At the Centre for Sustainability, we recently purchased AVG anti-virus software using their charity discount. Not only was the price reasonable but the product got great reviews and we have found it easy to use. There are discounts off of the list price of AVG Anti-Virus for approved schools, churches, government entities and charitable organizations. AVG Free Edition is also available free-of-charge to home users!

FTP Software (Filezilla)
At the Centre for Sustainability we use Filezilla, which is an Open Source FTP (file transfer protocol) client that allows us to upload and download files from our web server. It has been designed for ease of use and supports many advanced features, to provide a secure, fast and reliable FTP solution. It's also worth noting that if you need an FTP server solution, Filezilla also provides a free server component enabling you to run your own FTP server on any machine you like.

At the Centre for Sustainability we use HTML-Kit to create, edit, validate, preview and publish web pages and scripts. The basic version is free and comes with plenty of plug-ins to allow you to extend and customize the way you work. With only a little bit of knowledge of HTML, we have found it quick and easy to use for basic updates to our website.

Mailhide to reduce Spam (reCAPTCHA)
In an effort to reduce spam we've started using a CAPTCHA program to hopefully reveal our email addresses only to humans, not automated programs.

What is a CAPTCHA? CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. You've probably seen them - colorful images with distorted text at the bottom of Web registration forms. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from bots (automated programs usually written to harvest valid email addresses to generate spam). It is significantly more difficult for computer programs to read distorted text, so bot traffic to pages or links protected by CAPTCHAs is dramatically reduced.

How does it work? Mailhide takes an address such as and turns it into something like In order to reveal the address, a user must click on the link and solve a CAPTCHA. This helps in reducing the amount of spam your email address will receive as it is effectively hidden from most spam bots.

Why use reCAPTCHA? Over 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved every day by people around the world. This is an enormous waste of productive time used to decipher meaningless words. reCAPTCHA channels this human effort into helping to digitize books from the Internet Archive. When you solve a reCAPTCHA, you help preserve literature by deciphering a word that cannot be read by computers. reCAPTCHA is a project of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and is free to use.

We've recently started using MeetingWizard, a free on-line tool to arrange and schedule meetings and other events. It automatically:

  • sends invitations to participants proposing alternate times
  • summarizes their responses
  • updates you on the results
  • sends confirmations
  • sends optional reminders prior to meetings

You and your participants must have access to e-mail and a browser but otherwise its pretty simple to use and makes arranging large meetings much easier.

OpenOffice is an Open Source multi-platform office productivity suite that is 100% free to use. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program. It looks very similar to Microsoft Office and has very similar features. It works with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office – so you’ll have no problem working with documents sent to you in Word or Excel.

We recently installed a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for the Centre for Sustainability using Open Source software called OpenVPN. OpenVPN was easy to install, works well, and best of all, is free! We enjoy the convenience of having access to our computer files over the Internet from home, or any other location, at any time. With the encryption technology built into the software, we are confident that access to our files is securely protected from hackers.

Open Source Software
For those of you that may not know, Open Source software is created through the collaborative efforts of programmers from around the world and is always free of charge for anyone to use. There are many Open Source solutions out there for a variety of computing needs. Using Open Source software will easily save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars in licensing and purchase fees and we suggest that you investigate Open Source software options as part of your organization’s technology strategy.

PDF Creator
PDFCreator is another Open Source product that we like. It easily creates PDF’s from any Windows program, and can be used like a printer in Word, Excel or any other Windows application.

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Working with Consultants

Choosing a Consultant
This document, found on the Centre for Sustainability's own website, was produced to assist Partners in Organizational Development grantees choose a consultant to facilitate their organizational effectiveness planning project.

Consultant Fees Survey
The Centre for Sustainability is frequently approached by Partners in Organizational Development applicants for information on what is a reasonable fee to pay a consultant to lead their organizational development project. During the summer of 2005, we conducted a survey of organizations that were recently funded through Social ServicesPOD, ArtsPOD or EnviroPOD to learn about their experiences with consultant fees. This report documents our findings.

Getting and Working With Consultants
Brought to you by the Free Management Library, this is a great resource for anyone working with consultants. Topics include Requests for Proposals, Potential Issues in Hiring Consultants, a Sample Checklist for Hiring Consultants and common pitfalls of working with consultants.

Nonprofit Genie FAQ's
The Nonprofit Genie FAQ's are brought to you by Compasspoint Nonprofit Services in California, USA. Described as free, fast and practical these FAQ’s were written by leading experts from around the USA. There are some good FAQ's on working with consultants, as well as other common nonprofit issues. Click on the links below:

Sample Request for Proposals (RFP)
This document, produced by the Centre for Sustainability, provides you with a basic template for requests for proposals (RFP) and can also be adapted for use as a contract with your consultant. If you're wondering how to circulate your RFP, we suggest sending it to organizations you know and you also might want to post it on-line (see below for one option of how to do this). connects non-profits across Canada with job seekers as well as suppliers of services and products. The Supplier Directory is a useful resource when looking for consultants, facilitators or mentors, and you can also post RFP's (and jobs). At this time all of their services (for non-profits and suppliers) are free.

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General Not-for-Profit Management

Below are links to a few of the best sites for those involved in the not-for-profit sector. They are full of useful information about a wide variety of topics, including board development, strategic planning, fundraising, financial management, and more.

Nonprofit Sector and the Economy Newsfeed
Keep up to date on current Canadian news about the current economic situation and the Nonprofit Sector. Subscribe to daily updates of articles that were specially selected by the library staff at Imagine Canada. Use RSS to subscribe in your email, feed, Facebook page, etc.

Voluntary Gateway
Check out the Voluntary Gateway for news, links and resource contacts on matters of interest to you as a volunteer, board member or staff person working in Canada's community-based sector. Current focus areas include Sustainability and Finance; Funding, Marketing and Social Enterprise; and Human Resources Management.

Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network
The Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network will help you find answers to many of your management problems, issues and concerns. The resources contained here represent what VSKN considers to be the best information available on the Internet in the following topic areas: leadership, community and government relations, fundraising, financial management, accountability and evaluation, managing people, and information technology.

NonprofitsCan is the public information portal of Imagine Canada (formerly the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy). The site includes information from Imagine Canada's research program and the Imagine Canada — John Hodgson Library. Resources include "Developing a risk management strategy: five steps to risk management in nonprofit and charitable organizations" by the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan.

Free Management Library
The Free Management Library is a wide ranging site that includes information collected in 75 categories related to personal, professional and organizational development for both the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. It includes a particularly interesting on-line learning tool called the "Free Nonprofit Micro e-MBA." This tool will help you understand the role of the Chief Executive and Board, teaches basic management and leadership skills, examines strategic planning and marketing of programs, and provides useful information on financial planning, program evaluation, HR management and more. (Note: some of the information presented here, particularly that dealing with legal or tax issues, will not be relevant to organizations based in Canada.)

Planning Toolkits from CIVICUS
CIVICUS is an international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. They have produced a range of toolkits to enable organizations to improve their capacity in a number of communication and planning areas. From learning how to write a funding proposal, developing a financial strategy and budgeting, to developing more effective action planning skills, the toolkits provide many useful tips and ideas to help strengthen organizations. The toolkits are available in English, French, Spanish and Russian in .doc and .pdf formats. Visit the "Resources and Services" section and then click on "Civil Society Toolkits" to download the files.

Fieldstone Alliance's "Tools You Can Use" E-newsletter
Delivered to your in-box about every three weeks, each issue features a free management tool or idea to improve the effectiveness of you and your organization. The tools are collected on Fieldstone Alliance's website in several topic categories including "Boards," "Finance" and "Management and Leadership." You can subscribe to "Tools You Can Use" by clicking here.

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Ask an Expert
The Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is a quarterly magazine that presents "strategies, tools and ideas for not-for-profits, foundations, and socially responsible businesses". The Review's website is generally very informative, and the "Ask an Expert" section is particularly helpful. You can search this tool for answers to questions on topics such as strategic planning, Board development and organizational development. You can also submit your own question to the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team through an online submission form. (Note: SSIR is a U.S. publication, and therefore, advice provided on some topics, such as taxation and legal issues, may not be applicable to Canadian organizations.)

Charity Village
Charity Village contains information and resources for Canadian not-for-profits.

  • Keep up to date with additions to the site by signing up for “Village Vibes,” a free weekly e-newsletter.
  • Visit the “Research Section” to find how-to articles in topic areas such as Organization Management, Fundraising, Marketing & Communications, and Technology.
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